I am extremely grateful to Christine Thompson and Alice Mascarenhas for taking the time to read and review my books, and to the Gibraltar Chronicle for publishing it.
There are a few spoilers in the first review, since it is really extensive, so if you plan to read Hybrid you may or may not want to read it.
“Return is the latest title of the latest and last book in the Evolution Trilogy by local writer Vanessa Wester (nee Beanland). It follows ‘Hybrid’ and ‘Complications’. I had not read the first two instalments of this trilogy but that did not matter one bit as it can be read as a stand alone read.
It was easy to find myself in the middle of this strange new world and I was soon immersed in it. I found myself wanting to know more about the community and its secrets as I turned the pages. To learn about the strong bond that exists between our protagonists Steven and Caitlin. Vanessa’s writing is very readable and easy. She draws you into the subjects and the overriding story of people like you and me, who maybe different and fictional, but are yet totally believable as people with hopes and dreams.
Steven Thorn and Caitlin Chance were born to be together even though they come from different worlds. Even though love is strong, sometimes it is not enough. Can they remains together? When they first fell in love it seemed inevitable, but how will it end when they return to the community of super humans.
This book, with its Sci-Fi vampire elements is about family loyalty and friendship, the choices one has to make on life’s journey, and about what the future will bring. This is a family saga and hoe one person can affect the lives of everyone is something most of us can relate to.
Vanessa recognises she has found inspiration in Gibraltar and in her experiences growing up as a child in a closed border situation. A deep understanding of this unique community in the Amazon is also reminiscent of the tight knit community of ours.
This is not the kind of book I normally read but I found myself immersed in the story, caring for the central characters and fascinated by the doings in the Community.
This book and all three books are in a similar vein of the Twilight series of books written for a wide readership. The author places it within the genre of paranormal romance and Sci-Fi. And it works. Essentially, it is about passion and emotion and about people and their actions.
I can certainly recommend this book and you will find yourself, like me, wanting to find your way back to the first book. For teenagers and older… It’s a fun and exciting read.”
Alice Mascarenhas, Gibraltar Chonicle
Saturday 21st December, 2013
“WESTER TAKES INSPIRATION FROM HER OWN LIFE AND HER IMAGINATION”
Would it be reasonable of me to suspect that the story behind “Hybrid” was inspired, in part, by the popularity of the Twilight series? There is no doubt of the success of this series of novels and “Hybrid” I believe is aimed at a similar audience. Having read only the first of the Twilight novels I cannot say whether there were any sex scenes as such as there are in “Hybrid”. However, these scenes are not embarrassingly explicit so may be pretty much what modern teens are exposed to anyway. However, I leave to the parent to decide whether their child is ready for such reading. Other than my reservations about sexual activity this novel would be quite in order for middle to late teens as well as those with a taste for vampires.
It is set initially in Freshers’ week at the University of Southampton where the new students are exploring their environment.
We follow, in particular, one student, Caitlin, who spots and is spotted by the extremely attractive and kindly Steven. Steven has been raised by his father and Spanish stepmother and has no recollection of his real mother. His life, to date, has been utterly normal and happy. Meeting Caitlin just seems to be moving further down the path of happiness, for both of them.
But there were others at the university on that first day and they were not there as students but as “visitors”.
There is something sinister about Ingrid and Tomas and Eilif, who are chaperoning them, and we are aware of tensions building in Ingrid and Tomas. When Ingrid sees Steven she makes a decision that he will be hers and, before his relationship with Caitlin develops, Ingrid lures him into bed. Afterwards he remembers little of the encounter other than the bite marks on his neck.
Meanwhile, Caitlin has befriended the shy and rather gauche Georgina and they choose to be roommates. Hence it is Caitlin who is present when Georgina’s body is found in what is described as a suicide. But Caitlin has doubts.
Unbeknown to Steven, his encounter with Ingrid has had consequences. Ingrid has uncovered a truth about Steven, a truth that necessitates his removal from Southampton and from the world as he knows it. Without telling you the whole story, I am sure I won’t be divulging something you might have already begun to guess that Steven is a Hybrid, half human and half “vampire” – a term that his natural mother and her group despise and refuse to call themselves.
They were a group of people who became victim of a post nuclear explosion attack by vampire bats and although apparently normal and able to survive on a diet which does not involve humans, there is one period in their lives, when they mature, when human blood is essential if they are to survive the “change” to full blown vampires. The group have isolated themselves in the Amazon Jungle and created a citadel in an extinct volcano; because of their expertise as scientists and engineers everything that is needful is provided. But Steven rebels. It is not his world and he resents being trapped in it. There seems, though, to be no way out and his “change” is coming.
Although the author is inspired by novels in the same genre there is nothing wrong in that – most of us take inspiration from one source or another. What is needed is our original input and Vanessa Wester has clearly taken inspiration from her own life and from her imagination in this novel. She has clearly spent time creating the imaginary citadel and understands its geography and customs which are made clear to the reader. The storyline flows smoothly. I found it easy to read even though it is not my “kind of book” and I always think there must be something to recommend a book which you would not normally select but with which you can become involved. The plot line does not bear too much scrutiny but then neither does the underlying theme of the many vampire or similar novels and, after all, this book is meant as an entertainment not as a work of science.
Here is another Gibraltarian venturing into the world of the novel and having the courage to publish the same at their own cost. Is there an area of the arts that this little community hasn’t got covered and in which it isn’t beginning to make waves?